LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts has added $25 million to his request for emergency appropriations to battle the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to $83.6 million.
The additional money would be held in reserve for use if needed, according to information sent to state lawmakers Sunday.
Previously announced portions of the request would be earmarked for specific uses, including boosting the state's testing capability, making protective equipment more available and augmenting staffing in public health and state care institutions.
The Nebraska Legislature is scheduled to reconvene at 1:30 p.m. Monday to consider the request. State lawmakers will meet in person in the legislative chambers at the State Capitol, though they will be able to stay in their offices up until the time of the vote. The number of staffers allowed on the floor with lawmakers will be limited to only essential personnel.
State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln had requested Saturday that the Legislature reconvene electronically to avoid the risks of gathering so many people together in person.
A legislative rule requires senators to physically be present in the legislative chamber to vote. Pansing Brooks argued that the speaker could use his discretion to implement a temporary rule that could be confirmed by lawmakers during their electronic session.
The emergency appropriation will be introduced as an amendment to Legislative Bill 1198, an appropriations bill that is awaiting second-round consideration.
Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer of Norfolk said he hopes to get the bill advanced to the final round of consideration on Monday and to vote on passing it on Wednesday.
The money would be drawn from the state's cash reserve fund.